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Antony and Cleopatra

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ACT I SCENE II The same. Another room. 
[Enter CHARMIAN, IRAS, ALEXAS, and a Soothsayer]
CHARMIANLord Alexas, sweet Alexas, most any thing Alexas,
almost most absolute Alexas, where's the soothsayer
that you praised so to the queen? O, that I knew
this husband, which, you say, must charge his horns
with garlands!5
SoothsayerYour will?
CHARMIANIs this the man? Is't you, sir, that know things?
SoothsayerIn nature's infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.10
ALEXASShow him your hand.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSBring in the banquet quickly; wine enough
Cleopatra's health to drink.
CHARMIANGood sir, give me good fortune.
SoothsayerI make not, but foresee.15
CHARMIANPray, then, foresee me one.
SoothsayerYou shall be yet far fairer than you are.
CHARMIANHe means in flesh.
IRASNo, you shall paint when you are old.
CHARMIANWrinkles forbid!20
ALEXASVex not his prescience; be attentive.
SoothsayerYou shall be more beloving than beloved.
CHARMIANI had rather heat my liver with drinking.
ALEXASNay, hear him.25
CHARMIANGood now, some excellent fortune! Let me be married
to three kings in a forenoon, and widow them all:
let me have a child at fifty, to whom Herod of Jewry
may do homage: find me to marry me with Octavius
Caesar, and companion me with my mistress.30
SoothsayerYou shall outlive the lady whom you serve.
CHARMIANO excellent! I love long life better than figs.
SoothsayerYou have seen and proved a fairer former fortune
Than that which is to approach.
CHARMIANThen belike my children shall have no names:35
prithee, how many boys and wenches must I have?
SoothsayerIf every of your wishes had a womb.
And fertile every wish, a million.
CHARMIANOut, fool! I forgive thee for a witch.
ALEXASYou think none but your sheets are privy to your wishes.40
CHARMIANNay, come, tell Iras hers.
ALEXASWe'll know all our fortunes.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSMine, and most of our fortunes, to-night, shall
be--drunk to bed.
IRASThere's a palm presages chastity, if nothing else.45
CHARMIANE'en as the o'erflowing Nilus presageth famine.
IRASGo, you wild bedfellow, you cannot soothsay.
CHARMIANNay, if an oily palm be not a fruitful
prognostication, I cannot scratch mine ear. Prithee,
tell her but a worky-day fortune.50
SoothsayerYour fortunes are alike.
IRASBut how, but how? give me particulars.
SoothsayerI have said.
IRASAm I not an inch of fortune better than she?
CHARMIANWell, if you were but an inch of fortune better than55
I, where would you choose it?
IRASNot in my husband's nose.
CHARMIANOur worser thoughts heavens mend! Alexas,--come,
his fortune, his fortune! O, let him marry a woman
that cannot go, sweet Isis, I beseech thee! and let60
her die too, and give him a worse! and let worst
follow worse, till the worst of all follow him
laughing to his grave, fifty-fold a cuckold! Good
Isis, hear me this prayer, though thou deny me a
matter of more weight; good Isis, I beseech thee!65
IRASAmen. Dear goddess, hear that prayer of the people!
for, as it is a heartbreaking to see a handsome man
loose-wived, so it is a deadly sorrow to behold a
foul knave uncuckolded: therefore, dear Isis, keep
decorum, and fortune him accordingly!70
ALEXASLo, now, if it lay in their hands to make me a
cuckold, they would make themselves whores, but
they'ld do't!
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSHush! here comes Antony.75
CHARMIANNot he; the queen.
CLEOPATRASaw you my lord?
CLEOPATRAWas he not here?
CHARMIANNo, madam.80
CLEOPATRAHe was disposed to mirth; but on the sudden
A Roman thought hath struck him. Enobarbus!
CLEOPATRASeek him, and bring him hither.
Where's Alexas?85
ALEXASHere, at your service. My lord approaches.

CLEOPATRAWe will not look upon him: go with us.
[Enter MARK ANTONY with a Messenger and Attendants]
MessengerFulvia thy wife first came into the field.
MARK ANTONYAgainst my brother Lucius?
But soon that war had end, and the time's state
Made friends of them, joining their force 'gainst Caesar;
Whose better issue in the war, from Italy,
Upon the first encounter, drave them.
MARK ANTONYWell, what worst?95
MessengerThe nature of bad news infects the teller.
MARK ANTONYWhen it concerns the fool or coward. On:
Things that are past are done with me. 'Tis thus:
Who tells me true, though in his tale lie death,
I hear him as he flatter'd.100
This is stiff news--hath, with his Parthian force,
Extended Asia from Euphrates;
His conquering banner shook from Syria
To Lydia and to Ionia; Whilst--105
MARK ANTONYAntony, thou wouldst say,--
MessengerO, my lord!
MARK ANTONYSpeak to me home, mince not the general tongue:
Name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome;
Rail thou in Fulvia's phrase; and taunt my faults110
With such full licence as both truth and malice
Have power to utter. O, then we bring forth weeds,
When our quick minds lie still; and our ills told us
Is as our earing. Fare thee well awhile.
MessengerAt your noble pleasure.115
MARK ANTONYFrom Sicyon, ho, the news! Speak there!
First AttendantThe man from Sicyon,--is there such an one?
Second AttendantHe stays upon your will.
MARK ANTONYLet him appear.
These strong Egyptian fetters I must break,120
Or lose myself in dotage.
[Enter another Messenger]
What are you?
Second MessengerFulvia thy wife is dead.
MARK ANTONYWhere died she?
Second MessengerIn Sicyon:125
Her length of sickness, with what else more serious
Importeth thee to know, this bears.
[Gives a letter]
MARK ANTONYForbear me.
[Exit Second Messenger]
There's a great spirit gone! Thus did I desire it:
What our contempt doth often hurl from us,130
We wish it ours again; the present pleasure,
By revolution lowering, does become
The opposite of itself: she's good, being gone;
The hand could pluck her back that shoved her on.
I must from this enchanting queen break off:135
Ten thousand harms, more than the ills I know,
My idleness doth hatch. How now! Enobarbus!
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSWhat's your pleasure, sir?
MARK ANTONYI must with haste from hence.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSWhy, then, we kill all our women:140
we see how mortal an unkindness is to them;
if they suffer our departure, death's the word.
MARK ANTONYI must be gone.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSUnder a compelling occasion, let women die; it were
pity to cast them away for nothing; though, between145
them and a great cause, they should be esteemed
nothing. Cleopatra, catching but the least noise of
this, dies instantly; I have seen her die twenty
times upon far poorer moment: I do think there is
mettle in death, which commits some loving act upon150
her, she hath such a celerity in dying.
MARK ANTONYShe is cunning past man's thought.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSAlack, sir, no; her passions are made of nothing but
the finest part of pure love: we cannot call her
winds and waters sighs and tears; they are greater155
storms and tempests than almanacs can report: this
cannot be cunning in her; if it be, she makes a
shower of rain as well as Jove.
MARK ANTONYWould I had never seen her.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSO, sir, you had then left unseen a wonderful piece160
of work; which not to have been blest withal would
have discredited your travel.
MARK ANTONYFulvia is dead.
MARK ANTONYFulvia is dead.165
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSWhy, sir, give the gods a thankful sacrifice. When
it pleaseth their deities to take the wife of a man
from him, it shows to man the tailors of the earth;170
comforting therein, that when old robes are worn
out, there are members to make new. If there were
no more women but Fulvia, then had you indeed a cut,
and the case to be lamented: this grief is crowned
with consolation; your old smock brings forth a new175
petticoat: and indeed the tears live in an onion
that should water this sorrow.
MARK ANTONYThe business she hath broached in the state
Cannot endure my absence.
DOMITIUS ENOBARBUSAnd the business you have broached here cannot be180
without you; especially that of Cleopatra's, which
wholly depends on your abode.
MARK ANTONYNo more light answers. Let our officers
Have notice what we purpose. I shall break
The cause of our expedience to the queen,185
And get her leave to part. For not alone
The death of Fulvia, with more urgent touches,
Do strongly speak to us; but the letters too
Of many our contriving friends in Rome
Petition us at home: Sextus Pompeius190
Hath given the dare to Caesar, and commands
The empire of the sea: our slippery people,
Whose love is never link'd to the deserver
Till his deserts are past, begin to throw
Pompey the Great and all his dignities195
Upon his son; who, high in name and power,
Higher than both in blood and life, stands up
For the main soldier: whose quality, going on,
The sides o' the world may danger: much is breeding,
Which, like the courser's hair, hath yet but life,200
And not a serpent's poison. Say, our pleasure,
To such whose place is under us, requires
Our quick remove from hence.

Antony and Cleopatra, Act 1, Scene 3

Explanatory Notes for Act 1, Scene 2
From Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company.

2. Absolute. Complete, perfect.

21. Prescience. One who knows all things; used here jokingly as a title.

24. Liver. Heart. Liver was often used as the seat of love.

27. Widow. Outlive them.

28. Herod of Jewry. A reference to Herod's slaughter of the innocents. He is represented in the old mystery plays as a fierce tyrant.

29. Find me. Find out that it may be my destiny.

30. Companion. Make me an equal with.

35. Belike. It is likely I shall have no children to name.

37. Every. Every one.

39. For a witch. If this is the best you can do you will never be burned for a witch.

46. E'en. As little as, etc.

46. Nilus. Nile.

47. Wild. Extravagant.

49. Prognostication. A sign of fruitfulness.

50. Worky-day. Common, ordinary.

58. Come. Come, tell me his fortune.

60. Isis. The Egyptian goddess of the earth and of fertility.

82. Roman. A thought about Rome.

88. Into the field. Took up arms.

92. Time's state. The state of affairs made friendship necessary.

92. Jointing. Joining.

93. Issue. Fortune, success.

94. Drave. An old form not commonly used by Shakespeare.

100. As. As if.

102. Stiff. Hard to tell.

103. Extended. A legal term meaning to seize upon.

103. Eurphrates. Here accented on the first syllable.

104. Syria, etc. Provinces of Asia Minor.

108. Home. Frankly, without reserve.

113. Quick. Active.

114. Earing. Ploughing. That is, the knowledge of our faults is like ploughing the mind for bringing forth a new and worthy crop instead of weeds.

117. Sicyon. One of the most ancient cities in southern Greece.

118. Stays. Awaits your pleasure.

127. Importeth. It is of importance for you to know.

128. Forbear. Have patience with me.

129. Great Spirit. A noble mind.

130. Contempt. What we fling away with careless contempt.

132. Revolution. What at the moment seems pleasure to us, by the changes of time and events, often becomes pain.

133. Being gone. Though I prized her little when alive, being gone, she seems of value.

134. Could. Could willingly, would.

142. Word. Will be the result.

149. Moment. For far less reason.

150. Mettle. Spirit.

156. Almanacs. The old almanacs used to predict changes in the weather.

158. Jove. The god of thunder.

162. Discredited. That is, made you seem but a poor traveler.

168. Thankful. Sacrifice of thanksgiving.

170. Tailors. It shows the deities as tailors of the earth who, when old robes are worn out, can make him new. So the gods can supply men with a new wife.

175. Smock. Coat.

176. Onion. Mock tears are all you need.

178. Broached. The affairs she has set on foot.

182. Abode. Abiding.

185. Expedience. Expedition.

186. Part. Depart.

187. Touches. Other matters which affect us more strongly.

189. Contriving. Our many friends who are contriving or plotting in our interests.

190. Petition. Petition us to come home.

191. Dare. Declared defiance.

192. Slippery. Fickle, changeable.

194. Deserts are past. The time has gone by for giving him his deserts.

195. Pompey. Invest the son with all the dignities of the father. Pompey was a famous Roman general.

196. Blood. Courage.

198. Main. Chief soldier of the world.

198. Quality. Disposition.

199. Sides. The whole empire of Rome.

200. Coursers. A reference to the old superstition that a horse hair, when put into water, will turn into a snake.

200. But. Only.

201. Say. Give our commands to our subordinates.

How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Antony and Cleopatra. Ed. M. Eaton. Boston: Educational Publishing Company, 1908. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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